Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Mark Kumpf finally out as Montgomery County Dog Warden. Why did it take this long?

Mark Kumpf, the County Dog Warden in Montgomery County Ohio, who certainly makes the short list for any honors consideration for inept dog wardens, will no longer be employed by Montgomery County. Per the Dayton Daily News
"Montgomery County’s parting with longtime Animal Resources Center Director Mark Kumpf will put the beleaguered facility on a new trajectory to improve the outcome of animals in its care, both county officials and animal welfare advocates said Tuesday. 
“We feel that 2019 is going to be a transformative year for our Animal Resource Center,” said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert said a day after announcing Kumpf’s employment with the county would end Friday. 
“We heard the community’s concerns, and we are making the necessary changes to address them,” he said. “Our primary goal is to improve our shelter operations, so that we can better serve our citizens and meet the needs of the animals in our care.”  

This is certainly good news.  Mr. Kumpf has been in his current position since 2006 and has the dubious honor of recording FOUR dog attacks fatal to humans in his county on his watch. Is this a record?

Why wasn't he fired after the death of Klonda Richey, the second fatal attack during his time in Montgomery County?  Richey was killed by her neighbor's dogs, dogs that she reported menacing and running at large over and over and over.  The response of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center's staff, led by Kumpf, was to post sternly worded post-it notes on the dog owner's front door.  There was never any follow up and the dogs eventually killed Klonda Richey as she predicted.  The best Kumpf could do for Richey was place her cats after she died.

It is our understanding that the lawsuit against Kumpf filed by the family of Klonda Richey will continue to go forward.  Below is text from the ruling allowing the family to sue Kumpf personally. This quote begins on page 3 of the ruling. This is stunning stuff.   

  {¶ 5} In July 2006, Defendant-Appellee, Mark Kumpf, was hired as the Director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center (“ARC”) and as the Montgomery County, Ohio, Dog Warden. Kumpf was still serving in those capacities at the time of Richey’s death. Kumpf had been involved in animal control since the early 1990’s, and had changed his philosophy from an “enforcement mode” to an “education mode.” In the enforcement mode, Kumpf’s approach had been to see how many animals he could pick up, how fast the animals could be gotten off the road, and how many summonses he could write. In this mode, he averaged 100 to 150 citations per month. In contrast, Kumpf’s education approach involved issuing fewer summonses and focusing citations on the more serious cases. {¶ 6} After Kumpf came to Montgomery County in 2006, he changed the focus of the ARC from enforcement to education. The number of citations issued to citizens dropped by more than 33 percent in the first two years of his tenure. At first, Kumpf’s bosses were concerned about a drop in revenue. However, Kumpf pointed out that he had taken in 2,000 fewer animals, and that licensing and adoption revenues had increased. {¶ 7} Kumpf also instructed his deputy wardens to write fewer citations because he believed the courts were not doing their job, and were notoriously unhelpful with citation fines and enforcement. In the two years before Richey’s death, out of more than 20,000 calls about animals, only about 697 (about 3.4 percent) resulted in citations. Of 60,000 dogs in Montgomery County, only 12 were designated as “nuisance” or -4- “dangerous” dogs in 2013. {¶ 8} Kumpf was under the impression that before an animal control officer can issue a citation for a “dog at large,” the officer must witness the dog off an owner’s property and not under the owner’s immediate control. However, at Kumpf’s direction, officers were not patrolling. In addition, also at Kumpf’s direction, dispatchers routinely refused to answer phone calls requesting service during business hours. Instead, dispatchers pushed a “divert” button on the phone and calls were sent to voicemail. All of the calls Klonda Richey made to ARC went to voicemail. {¶ 9} Richey made about 13 calls to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center and at least 13 calls to ARC to complain about Nason’s dogs. The problems were severe enough that Richey paid to have a fence installed between the two houses and to have a security camera pointed at Nason’s home to capture video surveillance of the dogs entering her property unrestrained and off leash. In one of the calls, Richey reported that Nason “let his aggressive pit/mastiff run loose while she was walking to work and threatened to let it have her for a treat.” Doc. #13, First Amended Complaint, ¶ 14. According to Kumpf, he met with ARC officers daily to discuss calls that had been received. As a result, Kumpf would have been aware of Richey’s calls and complaints."

It should be noted that Kumpf was also part of the team that brought changes to Ohio's laws regarding dangerous dogs in 2012.  Mr. Kumpf, as treasurer of the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association and Matt Granito as president of the organization, actively supported HB 14, written by out of state special interest Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab Utah and introduced by Toledo Representative Barbara Sears.  Kumpf and Granito, both closely associated with Best Friends, used the name of the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association while supporting the bill without actually consulting the rank and file of the group.  Many county dog wardens had serious concerns about the bill.  Those concerns proved valid.  Since passage of HB 14 in 2012 (not quite 7 years) sixteen Ohioans have been mauled to death by dogs in our state, three in Montgomery County alone.  In the DECADE prior to passage of HB 14 Ohio had five fatal attacks. Think about that.

Why did this take so long?

12/19/2018 update.

There was no tactful resignation.  Kumpf was involuntarily terminated by the county.